Friday, August 19, 2016

EVERYBODY NEEDS THEIR BREAKFAST

While recently poking about a local prairie patch, thinking to make a few photos of butterflies and blacked-eyed Susans, I chanced upon a humble bumble bee working a pink clump of fragrant milkweed. Deciding it might make a good shot, I zoomed in, focused and—just getting started—clicked off a single image. 

Huh? Something fast and shadowy swooped through the viewfinder. The bee suddenly disappeared. 

I lowered the camera and began looking around…and there on a nearby stem was the answer: the breakfasting bumble bee had become breakfast for a marauding robber fly. 

Talk about a good morning gone bad! 

Robber flies are the insect equivalent of saber-tooth tigers. Fast-flying aerial predators with sharp eyesight and a proboscis designed for stabbing, through which they inject a powerful neurotoxic venom along with digestive juices to liquify their victim's innards—which the robber fly then sucks up like a sort of smoothie. 

Amazing creatures, really. Though truly bad news if you're a bee. The old folks sometimes called them a "bee panther." Which is pretty apt…and puts me in mind of that old Ogden Nash ditty: "When called by a panther, don't anther." 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

IS SUMMER ALMOST OVER?

Here in southwestern-Ohio, the high temp again exceeded 90˚F yesterday, as it did the day before and the day before that, ad infinitum. Global warming? Cosmic payback for building one too many strip malls or freeways? 

I dunno. Maybe it's always been that hot between April and October. My memory banks are just too over-cooked to trust. Remembering an occasional cooler stretch during July and August could be a mere fantasy on my part, an illusion based on wishful thinking.

I won't even mention the muggy, smothering humidity! Let's just say those fancy new high-tech moisture-wicking fabrics have met their match!

Nope. The only meaningful information—the only answer we wring-us-out-like-a-washrag suffers care about—is this: Is summer is almost over?

YUP! I have been to the field and witnessed with my own sweat-stung eyes. THE IRONWEED IS BLOOMING! And anyone who knows anything about the seasonal passage can tell you—when the ironweed comes into bloom, summer's days are numbered. 

Ironweed doesn't lie and it's never wrong. The clock is ticking. The countdown has begun. Here in Buckeyeland the ironweed is blooming!

HOORAY AND HALLELUJAH!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

A MASOCHISTIC WHIM?

Last Friday, in spite of having that very morning posted a heartfelt whine about how uncomfortable I'd been and how much I disliked the recent heatwave, I decided to take a ramble and make a few photos.

No joke! Middle of the day, sun a'blazing, temperature pushing ninety, not a cloud in the sky or a breath of breeze stirring…and I set off to visit a nearby prairie. A stifling, wide open field of grass and weeds and waist-high wildflowers, where, on a bright August day, the merciless sun beats down on you like a sledgehammer!

Yup, it sounded like a masochistic whim even to me!

I did it anyway—no doubt a telling factor in regards to my already questionable sanity. What's more, I had a pretty good time, in a sweat-drenched, near-smothered, shake-and-bake sort of way. And I'll share some of the photos during the next week or so, starting with this pearl crescent butterfly atop what I think is a really scraggly ox-eye bloom.

Moreover, in retrospect I suppose there was some sort of lesson to be learned from my outing…though that might simply be a delusion resulting from early-stage heatstroke.
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Friday, August 5, 2016

TOO HOT FOR COMFORT!

I'm not a fan of hot weather. Daytime highs in the 70-75˚F range are fine—but anything above 80˚F is beyond my comfort level. And it doesn't matter whether it's a "dry" heat or accompanied by a humidity level one notch shy of rain. 

Hot is hot, and I flat don't like it!

The past couple of weeks have been a sweltering, searing ordeal. Typical for southwestern-Ohio this time of year. The dreaded Dog Days. And to us boreal-natured types, pure torture. 

Day after day, unrelenting highs of 90˚F, give or take a degree. Soaring humidity. No breeze. Like being locked in a perpetual sauna. 

My energy and enthusiasm have been completely zapped. Work on various projects has suffered. This means I not only feel miserable, but guilty about not getting things done as quickly as I'd planned.

Summer has always been my least favorite of the four seasons. Though I'll admit I'm pretty good during the first half—until the heat cranks up and begins taking its toll. While there's admittedly plenty of outdoorsy stuff to enjoy, lots to do and see, plus all that tasty fresh produce straight from the garden…the overall discomfort of the unrelenting oven-like weather—muggy, searing, to the point where I feel like a pork shoulder roasting over a charcoal grill—cancels out most of the pleasure. 

Guess I'd rather shiver than sweat!
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Monday, August 1, 2016

BAD ATTITUDE BEETLE


A few mornings ago when I was set up in the side yard, busily cutting some trim material to go around the kitchen window, this formidable looking beetle came marching across my outdoor work table. 

I sat the circular saw aside and bent down for a closer look. Viewed head-on, he looked like the starring creature from some 1950s-era horror flick.  

Oh, ho! The thumb-sized fellow reared-up, mandibles spread, threatening to do me immediate bodily harm. A wholly unwarranted attitude, I thought—after all, he was the trespasser. Not that I feared having a finger lopped off…but had I been foolish enough to give an investigatory poke, a reciprocal pinch would have been painfully swift.

Nope, I've been bitten, stung, and otherwise savaged by more than my fair share of critters over the years, and didn't need laceration-by-beetle added to the list. I was perfectly satisfied to admire this nasty customer from a safe distance while taking the time to make a few portrait snaps—even while he continued to act downright unneighborly. 

Afterwards, I scooped him onto a sycamore leaf and relocated him to the other side of the yard. "Go intimidate a squirrel, or try biting the groundhog up by the driveway," I said as he lumbered off. 

Frankly, I'm not sure even the neighbor's pit bull is safe with with this bad attitude bug on the prowl! 
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Friday, June 17, 2016

WORK & PLAY


For the past week or so, I've been caught up in finishing the kitchen remodel which was begun and got mostly done last year. I've rearranged and added to the shelving over the butcher's block work table, installed a second LED light overhead, changed out a small LED work light over the sink, and fitted trim molding around the counter's backsplash area. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but each small task seemed to take hours…which probably says more about my carpentry competence than the actual work involved.

I still have to do trim around the window, and one of these days Mayladylove and I have to choose what sort of floor we're going to put down atop the subfloor. But that decision/job aside, next week it's on to the last phase of the bathroom redo…and when that's done, the great room—floor, walls, maybe even ceiling. 

But I'd like to take a brief break, so I'm thinking about playing hooky this morning to sneak away for a couple of hours of photography. Maybe at a little pond I like, which is just up the road, or perhaps I check out one of the nearby prairie patches—though flower-wise, not much will yet be going on there; prairies come into showier bloom later in the season.

Should my intended escape come about, I'll put up any good photos within the next few days. This post has pix I've taken recently around the yard—grab shots, made between the to-and-fro of work.
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

RED BUG & PICNIC TABLE


I saw this flame-red, quarter-inch-long bug climbing up a tiny stem amongst my walkway patch of chocolate mint, gleaming like a tiny jewel within the shadows. I have no idea what it is, though I'd guess some sort of aphid. But you gotta love such an astonishingly bright little creature…and I have enough chocolate mint about that I don't mind sharing.

It rained here most of yesterday, quite hard at times. Brief downpours that seemed almost tropical. I thought the river would be up more than it is. In fact, and in spite of all that rain, it has risen no more than a few inches and is merely murky but not muddy—fishable if I were of a mind to do so. 

Today it's supposed to be mostly sunny with a high somewhere north of 90˚F! Our hottest day of the year so far. Which is fine since we're going to a birthday party this afternoon for my delightful granddaughter, Anya Grace, who turned two last week. Perfect weather for celebrating a perfect girl!

On a side note, I expect the picnic table and benches I recently completed will get their first opportunity to be put to use. I delivered them to my daughter last weekend. A blog post or two back, I promised Gail I'd stick a photo of the end results in here when I finished. Well, I forgot to make a photo before delivery. My daughter, Lacy, snapped one for me after she'd done her painting. Trust me, her multiple coats of white paint makes them look way better. I am a carpenter's son…but I wholly lack my father's consummate skill and woodworking artistry. At best I'm adequately competent. 
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